Op Ed

Op Ed: Rock Schools

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Remember seeing School of Rock with Jack Black and then not long after all these “Rock Schools” started opening? I bet most of you, like me, thought what a great idea. Which isn’t very surprising. As of late though, there is a certain aspect of these schools that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to. There are a lot of great reasons why these schools are great; I’ll get to that as well but, there is one aspect of the whole thing that really cheapens it. Why aren’t these schools and teachers helping the kids to write their own songs? The teaching element of playing and learning other bands songs is great but when you are ONLY teaching these kids to play other peoples songs, then, I must take umbrage with these schools.

Where’s the originality? Why be complacent and teach these kids to do that? There is no reason why these kids should be relegated to play covers at these places. Obviously, they have the want and desire to play and perform, so why not take that and spark their creativity?! These kids, a lot of them are massively talented and it’s going to waste playing covers. I’d love for these kids to really start their own band and write their own songs. Look at all the singing competitions on TV. These people are being judged on singing and playing covers. There really is no sense of originality anymore. All these people are strictly “performers” at this point. The artistry is gone and American Idol, The Voice and now these “Rock Schools” have killed it for the next generation.

When the schools do showcase events, the kids are always just playing covers. It’s great that they can play the songs but, there isn’t a need for any more cover bands in the world. I can understand young kids, say less than 12 years old, jamming on covers but when you reach a certain age, there should be a switch to creating your own music. I remember the moment I wrote my first real song. I was at my house with my friend Karl, we must have been in 5th grade. I was already consumed and obsessed with music and was getting my friend really into it as well. At some point while hanging out, I picked up my guitar and started messing around with a riff, my friend Karl then joined me in humming a melody, within seconds we were writing our first song. It was a total simple punk rock song but, we really put our all into it. The song was called “Life and Death,” and we would go on to perform it a couple months later for our parents at a get together. The spark was there then, and it has remained. We were having fun and really digging on being able to write songs. I think we wrote 5 or 6 songs. To us, we weren’t happy playing covers, we wanted to do “our” thing. The name of the band was originally The Warheads and then we switched it to The Eternal Virus. To us it was real, to some people thought it was a joke but, no matter what they all thought, we did it because we loved it.

Please rock schools, embrace the creativity and desire of these kids. They are the next generation of musicians and deserve to be heard. Don’t turn them into a gimmick. Make sure they are getting the right musical education. Teach them about the influences of their favorite bands. Get them INTO music, have them study the greats of yesterday. Help them to understand the difference between being influenced and inspired.

Op Ed: What Happened To The Danger

I love music. I don’t know where I would be if certain bands had not existed. Growing up I had posters all over my walls of the bands I loved, from Bon Jovi, Guns N Roses, Metallica and so many more. When I was young there was something really special about what was happening with music. I was lucky enough to get into music at a really young age. Being able to listen to what was coming out during the late 80’s and when the Seattle music came out guns blazing, really helped to shape my musical taste and understanding. One thing that I noticed during that time was a sense of danger. Being able to standup to “THE MAN,” and just letting it all go on stage really had a dramatic impact on the time. Just like in the late 60’s and early 70’s there was such a powerful message behind the music, that led to the danger aspect of things.

Sure there are bands that have theatrics and things of that nature, but that doesn’t hold a candle to the actuality of being real and expressing ones self in a fashion that is uninhibited. Take a band like Pearl Jam for example. They have always stood by their principles and haven’t strayed from what they wanted to do. Not to mention during their early years their shows were unpredictable. Same with a band like Nine Inch Nails and Neil Young. They have carved out careers that add that element of danger by bucking the trends and what’s been expected of them.

The newer bands of today don’t quite grasp the notion of “Danger.” There are so many out there that just play it safe and try to make it seem like they “Get it.” The sad reality is that they don’t, and you can see if in everything they do. Yes, the music business is in a state of emergency, but that doesn’t mean you have to forget your principles. There has been a resurgence of love for 90’s rock as of late, which is great, but if the main aspects of what those bands created are ignored by the bands of today, it seems like just fluff. A lot of the bands that carried the torch for so long are coming back, and showing these newer bands the right way to do things.

One of the best things I’ve seen since I started this site, is that a majority of the bands I’ve written about get it and are trying to break out to spread that around. Remember it’s ok to get a bit crazy and go nuts.